Barbara Balestra

Director, Environmental Sciences Teaching Laboratory, Micro-Lab.

Dr. Balestra’s research areas cover:

1) Microplastic research in the Anacostia and Potomac watershed –> the goal is to assess the quantity of microplastic in different environments in the DC area –> microplastic assessment –> to suggest how regulations should be focused to promote innovation of sustainable materials and promote environmental health and safety.

2) Paleoclimate studies –> how we can learn from the past about climate-human-environment interactions at the present time, and in the future –> understanding the earth system changes through the past geological periods can come only through the most rigorous reconstructions of climate, human activities, and earth processes, and their interactions, in every environment and at different scales.

Current Projects

• Microplastic and microbead spatial distributions, concentrations, and characterizations, in sediment samples from the Potomac and Anacostia River in the District of Columbia. (Submitted to DC Water Resources Research Institute)

  Co-Principal, Balestra, Parker, Jardine, Uscinski, NSF Grant, “New to IUSE: EHR DCL: Enhanced Teaching and Learning Through Problem-Based Pedagogy (AU, ETL)” (2021-2023, funded)

• Invited to participate as a Micropaleontologist (nannofossils) on International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Mediterranean-Atlantic Gateway Exchange, Expedition 401 (IMMAGE Project 2023-2025, funded).


Associate Researcher, Paleobiology Department at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

Associate Researcher, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

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